In the 3rd quarter of 2016, the United States installed 4,143 MW of solar power per a report released by Greentech Media’s Research Team – 191% greater than Q3’15. This volume represents the largest quarter in US history, even larger than the historically largest 4th quarters during the prior decade. Q1+Q2+Q3 of 2016 have already surpassed all of 2015’s total install amount. The 4th quarter is expected to be even larger – leading to 2016 overall being 88% greater than 2015. It looks like Americans installing solar power and the Department of Energy are turning their nose up to Donald Trump’s Chinese Hoax.
GTM Research showed aggressive total system price drops of 5-7% in a single quarter (that would compute to 20-28% if sustained over the course of a year). These price drops were related to the ultra-aggressive bidding we saw in the Middle East earlier this year – as the biggest bidders saw the solar panel pricing fall first, and then the rest of the supply chain in the US saw those price drops across the 3rd quarter. Below we see that solar module pricing fell from $.63 to $.49/W from the 1st to 3rd quarter, with a full $.10/W occurring in the 2nd to 3rd. Personal experience has seen an additional $0.06/W fall off of panel pricing in the more aggressively priced manufacturers (all bankable) – we should expect to see another strong quarter of price declines.
The utility-scale construction world is creeping closer to SunShot’s $1/W goal – current pricing is at $1.09/W. For the first time that I’ve noticed – Utility Scale now includes Single Axis tracking as a major subcomponent, and it makes sense – Single Axis tracking on the large-scale has gotten amazingly competitive. Manufacturers like GameChange are designing ultra-efficient and well-priced systems that utilities are comfortable managing (tracking systems in the desert break down). This quarter we also got to see Residential Solar Power fall below $3.00W on a national level. This data gives me greater confidence in my opinion on why SolarCity chose to expand in the State of Florida without them being allowed to lease.
Roughly, the total solar power industry will be worth about $21 billion in 2016 in the United States – an industry that will directly employee 250,000 people soon (with another 610,000 secondarily supported jobs). I hope Donald Trump realizes that 1 million Americans – people on roofs, engineers, sales people, warehouse managers, truck drivers, master electricians and so many more – are not going to quietly leave the searing high noon that we now own.